Deon Randall, his jersey in tatters and his high school career at an end, walked off the Carson Home Depot Field.
“It’s a great parallel,” Randall said, “a great analogy, a great symbol to how the game went…it was a rough game.”
Randall was a warrior in the State Small Schools Bowl. He rushed for 276 yards in 36 carries and scored three touchdowns, but Modesto Central Catholic hung on for a 44-40 victory
IT’S ON ME
The Francis Parker quarterback pointed to the middle of his jersey (“It was my call”) when asked about the play that brought an end to Parker’s season.
Randall said it was his decision to check from a run to a pass on fourth down with 1:43 left in the game and Parker on the Crusaders’ two-yard line.
The receiver, Dalante Dunklin, caught the pass, but was smothered at the five-yard line. Game over.
So was Randall’s brilliant career at the little school on Linda Vista Road.
Writer Steve Brand sought out Parker coach John Morrison.
“I would never second-guess him,” said Morrison of his signal caller, who scored 70 touchdowns in his final two seasons.
“I wanted him to make those decisions,” the coach added. “If that’s what he decided, it was the right call. He’s not just a great athlete but he’s very smart—heady. I’d never question his call, never.”
DISAPPOINTMENT IN 2008
A year before Randall scored 40 touchdowns and rushed and passed for more than 3,000 yards in a 12-1 season.
It wasn’t enough.
Parker was bypassed for the State Bowl Series when Capistrano St. Margaret, undefeated at 13-0 and riding a 42-game winning streak, was selected.
Parker had averaged 52 points a game and was convinced it could beat any Division V team.
A YEAR LATER
To get to a state bowl game this season the Lancers would have to defeat St. Margaret, either in the eyes of the selectors or in head-to-head competition.
Parker and St. Margaret agreed to play the second week of the season in a quaint stadium with an all-weather field and a view of the Mission San Juan Capistrano.
The game wasn’t that close. Parker opened a 28-13 lead and won convincingly, 28-20. Randall raced 86 yards for one touchdown and passed 29 yards to Roland Jackson for another.
“I thought we did a great job on Randall except for two or three plays, but great players make you pay on those plays,” said Tartans coach Harry Welch.
Randall took his football East to Yale and was a star in 2013.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder was the Bulldogs’ leading receiver with 85 catches for a 9.3 average and 8 touchdowns, and scored three rushing touchdowns and averaged 5.3 yards for 33 attempts.
A greater achievement for Randall came during the team’s season-ending awards dinner. He was named captain of the 2014 team, the 137th in Yale’s storied history.
Valley Center was 8-0, ranked sixth in the San Diego Section, and awaiting a visit from Oceanside, No. 1 in Southern California among D-1 squads and fourth in the state.
The Jaguars didn’t score until 23.4 seconds remained in the game and could amass only 40 total yards as the Pirates won, 45-0.
Heeding coach John Carroll’s command to “read the keys and get off to a fast start,” Noah Tarrant returned an intercepted pass for a touchdown on Valley Center’s third play and raced 12 yards with a botched punt for another touchdown in the first quarter.
The Pirates led, 24-0, after 12 minutes.
ANOTHER TITLE ROMP
Oceanside never looked back.
Coach John Carroll’s Pirates rolled past Ramona, 52-6, the following week, a season after the Bulldogs “upset” the Pirates in a 33-33 tie.
Helix was a 26-10 victim in the San Diego Section II championship and Oceanside overcame a 13-3, second-quarter deficit at Carson to defeat San Jose Bellarmine Prep, 24-19, in the State D-I title game, ending the season with 17 consecutive victories, unbeaten in 39 games, and ranked third in the state with a 14-0 record by Cal-Hi Sports.
“Other Oceanside teams may equal this (two championships in three years), but no one will ever beat it,” said Carroll.
Reggie Bush had his San Diego hometown area code 619 penciled onto the eye black he affected at USC.
Escondido’s Ricky Seale also wore taped eye black, honoring “Aunt Jackie”, according to Don Norcross of The San Diego Union. “Aunt” was on one eyeblack, “Jackie” on the other.
Aunt Jackie was Ricky’s father’s sister, who died in 2008.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
“After a Pop Warner game she told me, ‘I can’t wait to see you play in the big time,’” Ricky remembered. “Yet she was the type of person, she knew when I wasn’t trying the hardest and she told me.”
That wasn’t very often. The son of Sammy Seale, a 10-year NFL player (4 with the Chargers), who became an NFL college scout, Ricky went on to set the San Diego Section career rushing record, although finishing his prep career on crutches.
Seale injured his left knee in the second quarter after gaining 55 yards in 13 carries in a 35-14, semifinal playoff loss to Eastlake.
Seale had 6,690 career rushing yards and was the only San Diego Section athlete to surpass 6,000 yards. He moved on to play at Stanford University.
DUELING RUNNING BACKS
On the night Ricky Seale rushed for 404 yards against San Pasqual, Kenneth James, Jr., of Mt. Carmel rushed for 424 against Westview, breaking the record of 410 by Escondido’s Darrick Jackson in 2003.
BAXTER BLOW OUT
Dillon Baxter made a promise as a ninth grader when he joined the Mission Bay varsity.
“I told him I’d get him a ring,” Baxter said before he gave coach Willie Matson a hug.
Baxter fulfilled his promise by almost single handedly knocking out Valley Center in the Buccaneers’ D-IV championship, 48-17 victory.
The 6-foot, 205-pounder rushed for 384 yards in 26 carries and scored seven touchdowns. Along the way Baxter erased Tyler Gaffney’s year-old season rushing record and tied the Section record with 7 touchdowns.
Baxter’s touchdowns were on runs of 6, 21, 9, 92, 87, 1, and 46 yards.
Baxter finished with 2,974 rushing yards in 13 games. Gaffney had 2,866 in 14. Baxter came close with 52 season touchdowns but Gaffney held on to the record, having scored 56 in 2008.
The Mission Bay quarterback set a state record with 76 rushing and passing touchdowns, burying the record of 64 by Ventura St. Bonaventure’s Tyler Ebell in 2000. Baxter’s 919 career points and 481 points this season also set state records.
A brilliant career start was short circuited in Baxter’s second year at USC and was followed by a brief stint at San Diego State. He finished his collegiate career in 2013 at NAIA Baker University in Kansas.
BEWARE OF THE SHADOW
Ray Herring’s response to a question from writer Steve Brand on why Herring continued to run so hard after he broke into the clear on a 91-yard interception return:
“I saw a shadow and thought someone was after me, but it was my own shadow.”
Herring also teamed with quarterback Dillon Baxter as Mission Bay ran past Point Loma, 49-27.
Baxter accounted for his almost usual 300 yards in total offense, but Herring shared the spotlight with four catches of Baxter passes for 132 yards, including touchdowns of 59 and 51 yards, and intercepted two passes.
RING THE BELL
Writer Don Norcross’ game account captured the moment and the tapestry of the annual Imperial County “Bell Game” between El Centro Central and Brawley.
The 9-1 Central Spartans won, 23-18, and now trail Brawley (7-3), 41-24-1 since the Bell was first rung in 1944.
However, the rivalry goes back to 1921, and until 2004, the Spartans and Wildcats teed it up for desert bragging rights twice a year.
Norcross pointed out that fans began lining up outside Cal Jones Field in El Centro at 2:30 p.m.
By 5:30 a crowd of 6,000 had filled the stands and the fire marshal warned that the game wouldn’t start until the aisles were cleared.
Booster Club sales at El Centro normally grossed about $2,500, but upwards of $10,000 worth of merchandise is realized on this night.
MARKETING PAYS OFF
A total of 450 “Bell Game” T-shirts, at $12 apiece, was sold to students and the boosters used the $4,600 profit to buy “Bell Game” black jerseys for the Spartans.
El Centro players didn’t see the jerseys until they returned to their locker room after warmups.
WHISTLE BLOWERS FROM LONG DISTANCE
Members of the San Diego County Officials’ Association worked the Bell game, instead of representatives from the Imperial County association.
San Diego official Jacob Whittler explained that a perceived bad call could result in recriminations for a local official making the call.
Aggrieved fans could boycott the official’s business and “they’d know where his house is,” said the San Diego arbiter.
WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME
A minute remained in the first half of the Castle Park-Chula Vista season opener when the stadium public address reminded students that progress reports would be coming the following Tuesday.
The announcer was drowned out by a chorus of boos.
“Who invited this guy to the party?” wondered writer Kirk Kenney.
It was a party for Chula Vista, which routed its neighborhood rival, 41-10.
Arsenic is believed to have been around since the Bronze Age, but it was 2,500 years later when discovered at Carlsbad High.
The school was being renovated in 2008 and excess levels of the poison element were discovered in a routine soil check.
Swede Krcmar Field, named after the original Lancers coach, was condemned.
The team was forced to play all games in ’08 and ’09 away from its campus, with home designations at La Costa Canyon in ’08 and El Camino and Oceanside this year.
Carlsbad was 7-6 in 2008 and 3-8 this season.
The Lancers’ theme song might have been the 1961 Ray Charles favorite, “Hit the Road, Jack”.
When St. Augustine coach Richard Sanchez heard that Carlsbad had played away from home for 22 consecutive weeks, Sanchez remarked, “Twenty-two games? We haven’t had a home game since 1922.”
The Saints’ 7 ½-acre site in North Park has no football field. Their “home” games usually are at Mesa College, Southwestern College, or Balboa Stadium.
4.1 MILES & 47 YEARS
That was the distance and that was how long neighboring schools Morse and Mount Miguel had waited to play a regular-season game.
It was an eight-minute drive from Morse’s Skyline Drive campus to Jamacha Road to Blossom Road, site of the Mount Miguel facility in Spring Valley.
But the teams met only once, in the 1987 playoffs, after Morse opened in 1962.
The Tigers played 500 regular-season games before they visited Mount Miguel in the opening game of the 2009 season.
No specific reason could be offered as to why the teams had not met.
The stars apparently never were aligned.
Mount Miguel is a County school and Morse is in the city. The schools had other rivalries. Schedules conflicted.
A game was to be played at Mount Miguel in 2003 but canceled and forfeited by Morse when a school official was warned that undesirables would be present with weapons.
Mount Miguel dedicated its new turf field with a 35-14 victory.
AND ANOTHER ONE
Mount Miguel didn’t stop there. The Matadors defeated Helix for the first time since 1987, giving the rivalry spoils, a Scottish Claymore sword, a new address after the 44-21 win.
RARE IS THE DAY…
…that teams play to an 11-7 final score. When Fallbrook won at El Camino by that score it was only the third time in San Diego County history that a contest ended with that point total.
Madison defeated the host Hoover Cardinals in 1995 and Point Loma won at Fallbrook in 2007.
DON’T CROSTH ME
Quote Cathedral’s 6-foot-5, 307-pound Alex Crosthwaite, headed for California-Berkeley: “I just want to kick someone’s (behind). If I don’t pancake the guy I’m blocking, it’s not a complete block for me.”
WHO WRITES HIS STUFF?
Writer Don Norcross enjoyed the announcements by Scripps Ranch’s public address announcer Will Bailey, an English teacher at the school:
“Keep the car in neutral, grandma. There’s flags on the field.”
“Break out your caliper, your abacus, your slide rule, and your yardstick. Time for a measurement.”
PIRATES CATCH JACKRABBITS
Oceanside scored a rare San Diego Section victory when the Pirates knocked off Long Beach Poly, 14-7. The Jackrabbits fell to 1-3, having also lost to No. 2 Ventura St. Bonaventure and No. 4 Anaheim Servite.
La Costa Canyon, No. 2 in San Diego, defeated Rancho Santa Margarita, 28-14, and Vista, No. 4, was hammered by Mission Viejo, 41-17, in other matchup’s with Southern Section powers.
Mar Vista had not beaten Castle Park since 1988 and, after dropping the Trojans from its schedule from 1994-2000, the Mariners began a decade in which the average score was 43-7 in Castle Park’s favor.
Enter Danny Salazar. The Mariners’ senior kicker booted field goals of 46, 42, and 35 yards as Mar Vista lashed back at its South Bay neighbor, winning, 23-0.
Another long wait was over at Valhalla, which claimed the Grossmont South championship. The 14-7 victory over Steele Canyon was the Norsemen’s first league title in the school’s 35 years.
Valhalla held on for the win after a game official ruled “no catch”, nullifying a 35-yard passing gain which would have put the Cougars on the Norsemen’s 7-yard line with 1:20 remaining.
Valhalla safety Hansell Wilson told Bill Dickens of The San Diego Union that “we both had our hands on the ball, but I was able to strip it loose…the ref made the right call.”
QUICK KICKS—Eastlake spent part of the day shooting a team picture at Qualcomm Stadium the day of the playoff finals…the Titans defeated Vista, 21-14 for the D-I crown…Clairemont forfeited its opener to La Jolla when 12 players were busted for breaking school rules and the Chieftains didn’t have enough players…Grossmont beat Otay Ranch, 16-14, on Chance House’s 19-yard field goal with 5.2 seconds remaining, one year after the Foothillers missed a 40-yard field goal on the last play that would have won at Otay Ranch…the West Hills pep band’s timing was curious…it played Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust!”, after the Wolf Pack had just fumbled and lost a second-quarter kickoff and with Valhalla leading, 20-0 on its way to 48-7…West Hills unveiled its new, two-tone, all-weather field but again the timing was not good…Steele Canyon beat the Wolf Pack 48-23, in the inaugural game…Point Loma blocked two field goals and sacked El Capitan quarterbacks nine times in a 9-7 victory.. despite a 10-0 record, Eastlake did not receive a first-round playoff bye in D-IV….Mission Bay (10-0) and Valley Center (9-1), more established programs which played tougher schedules, warranted byes in the opinion of the selection committee…